This question is asked a lot in my workshops so I thought I would address the pros and cons of each medium.
I was a watercolor painter for years and I love the medium. I love its transparency; the way it flows on the paper plus I love how the light reflects off the paper (and now canvas) through the colors. There is an excitement that will never go away when colors meet on the paper and blend into this exquisite color that makes you want to dance.
Watercolor has its own traits that artists love and will love forever.
Acrylic on the other hand has a more matte opaque look that draws artists to capture its wonders. With the fluid acrylics one can get those wonderful transparent washes that watercolorists love. The fluid acrylics are highly pigmented so they offer a wonderful range of depth.
Acrylic paint used to have a noticeable plastic look but todays acrylics have surpassed this look into a beautiful range from transparent to compete opaque.
So which is better? I don’t know about you but when I see great watercolor or acrylic paintings I drool. They are each great in their own right…but you knew I would say this because it is true. But there are pros and cons about each medium and the big one is the “perception of value”.
Unfortunately, a watercolor painting commands a lower price point than an acrylic painting. Why? I think the reasoning is that watercolors are more fragile and acrylics are more durable.
There is some truth to this but in reality no painting should be put in direct sunlight as it will harm the painting. But “the perception of value” rules so watercolors, no matter how fabulous they are generally fetch a lower price than an acrylic painting.
Here is an idea for those who love both watercolors and acrylics…use them both in a single painting. If you use the fluid acrylics with lots of water, they act like watercolor. Put this down first as your transparent washes then paint over it with your watercolors. Here is the real plus…the acrylic won’t lift so you can scrub and still get that wonderful glow.
I can hear you now…but why would I do this? We are back to the “perception of value”. You can now label the painting as mixed media.
Here is another reason… when you combine painting mediums you adjust your normal way of painting and thinking. This causes new brain pathways to form and voila!…you have stretched your creativity into a new realm of possibilities.
So what are your thoughts about watercolor verses acrylics? Share your thoughts below.